BANDON -- Some people search for a sense of purpose their entire lives.
Bandon resident Steve Eggert has been able to find that with service to his country and to his community.
Eggert, 34, has served four tours of duty since enlisting in 2001, including two tours of Iraq (he was injured during the second tour) and has been involved in four different military operations. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Eagle Strike in South America. He is now in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and returned from his most recent tour in March after serving nine months in the Middle East with Operation Inherent Resolve.
Eggert also has a bachelor's degree in health education from Linfield College and works as an outreach coordinator for Coast Community Health Center in Bandon, helping connect veterans to the services they need. He is looking at master's degree programs and may return to school soon.
While serving, especially the last tour, Eggert thought a lot about his hometown and the many veterans there. He said he truly realized how many people in Bandon have served when he went to get his photo taken, at the urging of Joseph Bain, for the annual Bandon Western World Veterans Day spread a couple of years ago.
"I was feeling cocky, like I would be the youngest one there," Eggert said, "Then I walked in and it was the most humbling experience of my life. I felt like a 12-year-old sitting among all those older veterans and I didn't even know most of them, but I felt a camaraderie that you feel by just sitting next to people (who have been through what you've been through) and not even talking."
While serving for Inherent Resolve, Eggert flew an American flag over a mission defending a combat zone on Aug. 22, 2015, and brought it back to Bandon to give to the Bandon VFW Post No. 3440. Dave Reed of Bandon Frame and PhotoWorks made a shadow box, with the carefully folded American flag and a framed certificate telling the story of the flag, arranged inside. Eggert presented it on May 6 to VFW commander George Trott as a gesture of thanks from CCHC for the years of service local veterans have given, as well as a way to honor those who died giving service to their country.
"I will hang this in a place of honor," Trott said after receiving the gift on behalf of the VFW.
Eggert, a 2001 graduate of Bandon High School, loves serving and helping others, whether in the military, or through his career in the medical field.
"I've had no greater pride in my life than wearing that uniform," he said. "I'm humbled every time I wear it."
Working in the healthcare field has also satisfied Eggert's desire to help. During his first stint in the military, he worked as a certified nursing assistant. He also has worked in the military police.
Now Eggert is adjusting to civilian life and he admits it isn't always easy. He's been suffering from migraines and some post traumatic stress issues. CCHC has been extremely supportive, as has his church family at Bandon Christian Fellowship.
"I'm definitely grateful for the support the community has given me and that's why it's such an honor to be a veteran in Bandon," he said.